Monday, April 9, 2007

Dead in Motion?

An article from the Telegraph (UK) suggests that Bush has been deserted by the conservatives that bolstered the first six years of his administration. The article is slanderous in a couple of ways, taking cheap shots at the Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her much ballyhooed trip to Israel and Syria. The exact terms were that she is "trespassing on territory usually reserved for the president." Seeing as Bush has done little with regards to actual, meaningful diplomacy as he sends Condi Rice to do all of it for him, I don't really have a problem with someone actually going to talk to the Israelis and Syrians, especially the Syrians as suggested to both the Madame Speaker and the President by the Iraq Study Group (you know, that bipartisan group with the ideas about how to end this whole fiasco. Yea, they never talk about it anymore, as if it's not important or anything).

While this is one major complaint, the larger complaint is the reason that they gave for why Bush is now a lame duck. Former Bush Speechwriter David Frum said:

The root cause of his weakness is the Democrats' seizure of both the Senate and House of Representatives in November's mid-term elections. Without sufficient support to push legislation through Congress, the president was finished, said Mr Frum. "There's no domestic agenda," he said. "There's no possibility at all of the president advancing anything that is acceptable to both the Republicans and Democrats."
There is only one correct comment in this statement: that Bush has no domestic policy. What, besides tax cuts, No Child Left Behind, and the USA PATRIOT (that's how you're supposed to write it as the whole thing is an acronym. Pet Peeve, sorry.) Act, can you say is Bush's Domestic policy? As I type this now, I struggle to think of what else there is aside from Iraq. Bush's downfall isn't his idiocy, over-reliance on others, pandering to special interests, or any of the other corrupt practices of his administration. His failure is that he didn't think big.

That sounds weird doesn't it? He launched a pre-emptive war against an "innocent" country (iraq had saddam, but they were innocent of the charges leveled against it to justify this war), but he didn't think big? Yes, that's exactly right. Bush put all of his eggs in one basket: the war against terrorism. I have larger problems with this "war," as it is like the war on drugs but I won't get into that right now. Bush, after 9/11 (an event that is degraded every time someone uses it for political effect), became the war president, unable to focus on developing the home front and dealing with the many major issues that were directly in front of him as president. Instead, he decided to work on justifying and launching a war that has yet to justify itself and launched Iraq into prolonged civil war while having Afghanistan on the brink of falling back into Taliban rule. Presidents have had bad wars on their hands.

Truman had the fiercely unpopular Korean War during his second term. LBJ fought in Vietnam. Both were able to redeem themselves in the face of history because they did actually useful things during their administration. Truman helped rebuild post-war Europe with the Marshall Plan and was one of the first presidents to acknowledge the need for civil rights in the South, much to the displeasure of the Dixiecrats. LBJ created Medicare and Medicaid, two systems on the brink of destruction by Bush currently, and the Great Society, giving voting rights to Blacks in the South who used to be subjected to poll exams and physical intimidation for wanting to use the rights granted to them by the Constitution.

Unlike Truman and Johnson, Bush does not have this bailout. He has passed tax cuts which are saddling the next generation of Americans (my generation and younger) with higher debts to be paid off and less money coming into the government. No Child Left Behind is a sham, one that schools can't meet and is putting money into his own brother's pocket. All this while the USA PATRIOT Act gives the government the right to look through your personal records if they believe that you are a terrorist, whatever that word may mean since the "terrorists" in Guantanamo Bay have not been named as such or tried as such. He wanted to reform old standards of American government such as Medicare and Social Security. So far, he has been unable to touch Social Security and Medicare saddles Seniors with exorbitantly high prescription drug costs due to the "doughnut hole" in Medicare Plan D.

Bush abandoned his domestic policy with the intent of making himself the war president. Negotiating a plan that actually helps America's children, moves the tax burden off the middle class, and getting Seniors the prescriptions they need to be happy and successful are all things that can be agreed with and need to be done. Bush did not bother to set out an actual policy on these issues, but, instead, pandered to special interests and bad fiscal policy (I guess I shouldn't expect anything less from a man who ran oil companies into the ground), that is when he wasn't going for the photo op. Such an agenda requires Bush to ram things through Congress and complain when someone stops, asks reasonable questions, and then says no because the plan and its components do not make sense. His inability to negotiate and work within the system of democracy has made him an alienating figure in Washington and a figure who draws much ire from both sides of the aisle as his staggeringly low approval ratings show.

Bush is not a lame duck because of Congress, as Frum would suggest. Bush is a lame duck because of Bush. And like most lame ducks, he will have to be put down. Luckily, he won't get a bullet to the head. Unfortunately, he will go to his grave being known as one of the worst presidents of all-time, worse that James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, and Richard Nixon.